Did cops cover up Ahmaud Arbery's death? Family lawyer files federal lawsuit one year after he was gunned down
'It still hurts that I lost Ahmaud,' his mother Cooper-Jones said adding that following the tragedy, there were days when she couldn’t get out of bed
BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA: Ahmaud Arbery’s family has accused police officers of attempting to hide his murder. The 25-year-old unarmed Balck man was allegedly shot dead on February 23, 2020, by a father-son duo and their neighbor. On the first anniversary of the tragedy, Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones said his death "still hurts" and she still hopes for justice, according to a report by The Sun.
Arbery was jogging down a street in Brunswick, Georgia, when he was allegedly fatally attacked by Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael. The duo allegedly went behind him in their pickup truck, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan joined them. After the investigation, the trio was charged with felony murder and other crimes. All of them are currently behind bars without bond. However, the suspects have pleaded not guilty to felony murder charges.
A family lawyer of Arbery has also filed a federal lawsuit a year after Arbery’s death. The attorney, Lee Merritt, told First Coast News, "We wanted to let the [family] know that the community, their attorneys, the legal system is still going to be held accountable and that we’re still fighting for them a year later."
"They unfairly and prejudicially targeted the black man who was seen entering a property that many people were entering, they imputed criminality on [Arbery]. And they had the opportunity to avoid this from happening to tell citizens that it is not appropriate to engage in vigilantism."
Meanwhile, the grieving mother of Arbery spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and said, “It still hurts that I lost Ahmaud." Cooper-Jones continued that following the tragedy, there are days when she couldn’t get out of bed. She added, “Knowing that Ahmaud was possibly involved in change tells me he didn’t lose his life in vain."
On Arbery’s first death anniversary, his mother has decided to spend the day with family. She will also participate in a candlelight vigil at New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro.
According to a text message that was released in May 2020, a property owner was asked by a police officer to contact Greg if he faced any issue related to burglaries. However, the property owner denied any contact with the McMichaels, who reportedly called 911 several times after a number of burglaries in the months leading up to the death of Arbery.
According to the prosecutors, no evidence was found that the victim stole anything when the McMichaels and Bryan pursued him in their pickup truck and gunned him down.
The attorney said, “What these men did, it should have been condemned immediately." While Arbery’s added, “Ahmaud was killed in a very senseless manner. They didn’t care about it. They tried to cover it up. They didn’t value, they didn’t respect Ahmaud’s life. If these guys go to jail for the rest of their lives, it won’t bring Ahmaud back."
Merritt also went on to claim that the police department showed systemic racism in this case. “We went over 70 days without any real action in this case. And it wasn’t because of a lack of evidence. It honestly exposes a criminal justice system that undervalues Black life.”
Through the lawsuit, the lawyer and the victim’s family are seeking monetary damages in court as well as a systemic change to address racism within Glynn County. Merritt concluded, "The Glynn County Police Department is a troubled department, and not only because of what happened to Mr Arbery but shortly after his murder, the chief of police left his office in handcuffs along with some of his top officials."
"It's important for the world to know that on that date, that even as we hold the criminals accountable, there are other people that should be held civilly liable, and that there should be additional consequences," he added.